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Clearwire, a US-based wireless broadband services provider, plans to raise up to $400m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq exchange.
The company, founded by Craig McCaw, who pioneered mobile phone services in America, provides wireless broadband services using licensed spectrum and a technology called WiMax – an emerging standard backed by a consortium led by Intel.
Clearwire is expected to be the first publicly traded company focused entirely on delivering WiMax.
Mr McCaw, who is chairman and co-chief executive, founded Clearwire in October 2003, and launched its first services in August 2004. As a cellular telecommunications pioneer, Mr McCaw built McCaw Cellular Communications into the first nationwide mobile carrier in the US before selling the operations to AT&T in 1997 for $11.4bn.
AT&T Wireless was subsequently spun off by the old AT&T company and acquired by Cingular Communications, now the biggest US mobile operators.
Since then Mr McCaw has focused on new wireless technologies – at one stage he planned to set up a satellite based wireless data service with Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and chairman, but subsequently set up Clearwire to exploit what he viewed as a gap in the broadband access market.
WiMax typically enables service providers to cover a wide geographic area with relatively few cell towers and offer customers wireless internet access using small desktop modems at download speeds of around 1.5 megabits per second – up to 25 times as fast as a dial-up connection.
Clearwire, which is based in Kirkland, Washington, offers broadband service in more than 200 cities and towns in the US, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Mexico. Dozens of additional cities and towns across five continents have access to wireless broadband services through networks built by Clearwire’s wholly owned subsidiary, NextNet Wireless.
The company reported a net loss of $140m on revenues of $33.45m last year.
In a preliminary prospectus filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Clearwire said it would use the proceeds from the sale of Class A stock for market and network expansion, spectrum acquisitions, and general corporate purposes. Clearwire plans to have two classes of stock, a format used by some media companies to ensure that founders keep control. The filing did not reveal how many shares the company plans to sell or at what price but said Mr McCaw currently controls 82.9 per cent of voting stock.
Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan would be the lead underwriters. Bear Stearns & Co. and Wachovia Capital Markets will assist in the underwriting.